Education and outreach efforts in Placencia, Belize

Children from the Standard II class at St. John's Memorial Anglican School

Children from the Standard II class at St. John’s Memorial Anglican School

For the “scaling-up” season, a group of anthropologists has traveled to Belize during the month of June 2014 (read about last year’s pilot season here). Our team includes Masters students Suzanna Pratt, Eric Koenig and Paola Gonzalez, along with USF-PIRE CO-PI’s Dr. E. Christian Wells, Dr. Rebecca Zarger and Dr. Linda Whiteford. Our focus during this season includes stakeholder interviews, oral history interviews, focus groups with key stakeholder sectors/industries, and surveys targeting residents and tourists of the Placencia Peninsula. We aim to further investigate resident ideas of acceptable wastewater treatment technologies, stakeholder views of benefits and risks in using recovered resources, local demand for water and sanitation coverage, and analyze relationships between institutions involved in water and wastewater management. We also seek to share findings about water and wastewater management systems with stakeholders, and collaborate with local community organizations around these issues. By modeling these relationships and collaborating with local stakeholders on these issues, we hope to better understand how water and wastewater management and recovery can be appropriately and sustainably fitted to culturally and socially diverse coastal tourism destinations.

Students from the Standard III class having a discussion about their local water cycle

Students from the Standard III class having a discussion about their local water cycle

As part of our research efforts, we have developed a partnership with the local primary school in Placencia Village- St John’s Memorial Anglican School. Paola Gonzalez and Dr. Rebecca Zarger developed a lesson plan that discusses the water cycle, as it occurs in the children’s local environment and surroundings. The activity allows for students to sketch how they view the water cycle happening at their school- where does the water come from, where does it go, and where does it eventually end up. The activity includes water testing for pH and Dissolved Oxygen (DO), and ends with an interactive dialog that sought student’s input regarding how output relates to and affects their environment, as well as some action steps of things the students can do themselves to help.

Student from Standard III testing the pH of the water

Student from Standard III testing the pH of the water

Children’s perceptions regarding their local environment and how changes, such as tourism, wastewater and wastewater reuse can be used as focal points when trying to develop initiatives that aim to shift perceptions of sustainability, reclaimed wastewater/sewage and its uses.

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